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Germany s Genome Research Net Gets Government Lifeline Through 2007

FRANKFURT, Germany - The Genome Research Net is set to receive enough funding from the German government to keep it operational through at least 2007, GenomeWeb has learned.


"The investment in one of the most important research fields of the future is secure until 2007," Edelgard Bulmahn, Germany's minister of education and research, said in a visit to the Georg-Speyer-Haus, a biomedical research institute affiliated with Frankfurt University and part of the Genome Research Net.


The research net, which comprises university researchers, national laboratories, and small biotech firms, was founded in late 2000 with 180 million euros, or $158  million, in government funds-enough to keep it running through 2003.


Bulmanh would not provide the euro figure that would ensure its solvency through 2007, and Bernd Groner, head of the Georg-Speyer-Haus, said he was not concerned about the lack of hard figures and said that the minister's endorsement adds a sense of security to the research net.


"This gives us a sense of mission, increases our desire to succeed," he said.


The research net includes members in about 16 cities in Germany. The members represent 21 universities, five Helmholtz research centers, seven Max Planck institutes, and 10 small to medium biotech companies.


Of the original 180-million-euros in funding, about 65.7 million was allocated to a core area composed of the Helmholtz and Max Planck centers and institutes.


About 69.7 million euros of the total was allocated for disease-oriented research, which concentrates on five areas: cancer, cardiovascular diseases, nervous system disorders, infections and immunology, and environmentally caused diseases.


Some 33.3 million euros of the total went to developing platform technologies and bioinformatics. The remaining 10.4 million was earmarked to promote discourse on the ethical, social, and legal questions concerning genome research.


Bettina Bundszus, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education and Research, told GenomeWeb that the German government expected a return on its investment in genomics.


"This is one of the most important research sectors of the future," she said. "It ... will be important to the business sector and for creating jobs."


The net is located at and will be operational later this month.

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